Amarillo Struggles to Handle Influx of Refugees

Refugee News

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For the last five years, Titus Pa Thawng has lived thousands of miles from his native Myanmar in Amarillo, where he is a Christian pastor for a congregation of fellow refugees. “God has sent us here,” said Mr. Thawng, 45, a married father of three daughters.

More international refugees were resettled in Texas in 2012 than in any other state, according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. And one of the leading destinations is Amarillo, where members of Mr. Thawng’s church and other newcomers from places like Myanmar and Iraq often work in meatpacking plants.

Now local officials are worried that Amarillo’s refugee population is straining the city’s ability to respond to 911 callers who speak numerous languages and to help children learn English and adapt to a new culture.

“We’ve raised some red flags and said this isn’t good for some entities in the city or for the refugees themselves,” said Mayor Paul Harpole.

Amarillo, the state’s 14th largest city, with 195,000 residents, receives a higher ratio of new refugees to the existing population than any other Texas city, according to 2007-12 State Department data from Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Clarendon. And the only Texas cities that receive a larger number of refugees than Amarillo (which received 480 in 2012) are also the state’s largest: Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

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US to accept thousands of Syrian refugees for resettlement

Refugee News

US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard says the United States will dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to resettle permanently in the United States from about 350 this year to close to 10,000 annually as the crisis grinds on into its fifth year.

Summary? Print The low number of Syrian refugees accepted so far by the United States, attributable in part to Germany and Sweden offering to "take a lot," will increase significantly in 2015, a US State Department official says.
Author Barbara Slavin Posted December 22, 2014

While the number is minuscule given a total Syrian refugee population of 3.3 million, it reflects US recognition that the civil war in Syria is not about to end anytime soon and that, even when it does, Syria will need years for reconstruction and reconciliation.

Pittsburgh's New Immigrants: Refugees face challenges and opportunities

Refugee News

For many communities, it might have been a proud but fairly routine assembly, with pupils coming forward to receive certificates and handshakes from grownups for school achievements, but the recent Education Day, which the Somali Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh conducted, was a poignant event for people who were largely excluded from educational opportunities in their homeland for generations before being terrorized into exile.

Only in refugee camps in Africa and after resettling to America did they have more opportunities for schooling.

Read more here By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.N. sending thousands of Muslims to America

Refugee News
The federal government is preparing for another “surge” in refugees and this time they won’t be coming illegally from Central America.

The U.S. State Department announced this week that the first major contingent of Syrian refugees, 9,000 of them, have been hand-selected by the United Nations for resettlement into communities across the United States.

The announcement came Tuesday on the State Department’s website.

WND reported in September that Syrians would make up the next big wave of Muslim refugees coming to the U.S., as resettlement agencies were lobbying for the U.S. to accept at least 75,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.

Until now, the U.S. had accepted only 300 of the more than 3.2 million refugees created by the Syrian civil war in which ISIS, El Nusra and other Sunni Muslim jihadist rebels are locked in a protracted battle with the Shiite regime of Bashar al-Assad.

But the U.S. government has been the most active of all nations in accepting Islamic refugees from other war-torn countries, such as Iraq, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now, the Syrians will be added to the mix. They are cleared for refugee status by the U.N. high commissioner on refugees (UNHCR), who assigns them to various countries. Once granted refugee status by the U.N. they are screened by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for any ties to terrorist organizations.

The State Department announcement makes it clear that the 9,000 refugees represent just the beginning of an extended program to accept more Syrians.

Read More Here by Leo Hohmann



Countries vow to double Syria refugees intake

Refugee News

UN agency praises pledges to resettle over 100,000 refugees, but urges more help to curb rampant displacement crisis.

Twenty-eight countries have agreed to take in more than 100,000 refugees from Syria, doubling the number of migrants to whom they were initially offering asylum, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has said.

Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN agency, said on Tuesday that he was pleased with the new pledges but that much more help was needed to curb the rampant displacement crisis in Syria.

"We estimate [there] will be more than 100,000 opportunities for resettlement and humanitarian admission," Guterres told reporters on Tuesday after a high-level pledging conference in Geneva.

He said 28 countries had expressed solidarity with Syrians who fled their war-ravaged country, and with neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, which are struggling to cope with a bulk of the refugees totalling in the millions.

The world has a debt of gratitude to the neighbouring countries that probably we will never be able to fully pay or to fully express," Guterres old delegates.

There was no clear overview over which countries had pledged what, but Guterres hailed the roles played by Germany, Sweden and the United States in the resettlement programme.

However, the total pledges to help refugees still fall short of a UNHCR's target and the numbers experts say are necessary.

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